Sunday, July 31, 2011

Two new music videos: Björk & OK Go

There are two new music videos that were released this week: Björk's collaboration with Michel Gondry for her song "Crystalline" and OK Go's HTML5/Google Chrome extravaganza for "All is Not Lost."

Let's start with "Crystalline." I'll be honest: I am not a Björk fan and I do not like her music. Creatively, she has so many ideas and executes them well (I mean, everyone remembers her swan dress from the 2001 Oscars, right?). But the music itself just rubs me the wrong way. It doesn't excite me, it doesn't make me want to sing along or dance, it doesn't put me in a good mood. For me, that's what music is supposed to do. Björk's music makes me want to fall asleep or rip my hair out; it's similar to hearing fingernails on a blackboard.

But her music videos are always something to behold (see: collaboration with Chris Cunningham for "All is Full of Love" and her work with Spike Jonze for "It's Oh So Quiet"). And her latest music video with Michel Gondry is also admirable, though I have to disagree with Jezebel who said it would "blow your mind." I like the frame by frame shots and the squiggly lines of color. The little beams of light that hit the surface of the moon remind me of the fight scenes in Jason and the Argonauts from 1963. Don't get me wrong, I love the analog feel of it, but "blowing my mind" is not how I'd describe it. Gondry has more memorable videos than this one, as does Björk. It's a cute, interesting video, but nothing super memorable. Again, maybe this is because I don't like Björk's music, but this is not something I would immediately forward to someone and say, "Check this out."

If we want to talk about minds being blown, OK Go released a new interactive music video on Tuesday for their song "All is Not Lost." You can go to the interactive video at the website they created for it, though here is the standard, non-interactive video:

Similar to Arcade Fire's "The Wilderness Downtown," OK Go uses technology to make the music video come alive. I'm not even sure I would necessarily call these approaches "music videos" anymore, not in the sense of what used to play on MTV. I think Arcade Fire's video is also really amazing, but OK Go's is also visually a lot more complex. I can't imagine what it must've been like to have to choreograph a dance from below and then making the windows work in time with music.

The music video in this case doesn't just work on the visual and aural levels. It's not just music, text, and visuals anymore because the viewer is now also a user and controls the experience of the video. Every view is unique to the audience. Of course, the video can be viewed multiple times with the same message (or address in "The Wilderness Downtown"), but the overall concept is that the audience is helping to shape the experience.

What Björk's "Crystalline" video and OK Go's "All Is Not Lost" project show is that there are still different approaches to the music video. "Crystalline" is perhaps a little more traditional, though it leans more towards the artistic. In the footsteps of "The Wilderness Downtown" "All Is Not Lost" is pushing the video towards something different and what that is, we'll see if other bands follow.

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